Wed, Jul

High Grocery and Gasoline Prices? Monopoly Gouging isn’t Going Away


INFLATION WATCH - Sometime since the start of the Ukraine War, prices went up and didn’t really ever go back down. At first the problem was the moronic sanctions on Russian energy, which made every trip to the gas station as expensive as purchasing a new laptop. That imbecilic fiasco lasted for months. But finally, the prices dropped. (The president wised up to the tornado of voter fury this wild expense, left unchecked, would unleash.) They didn’t fall as low as they were pre-sanctions, but were not so high that filling the tank drained the checking account. Utility bills, however, shot up and basically stayed up. Though they since sank from their insane 2022 highs, they’re still confiscatory. So is the cost of groceries. And forget shopping for household items – that puts a capital G in “gouging.”

Inflation is with us, period. It may have eased a bit from its recent 40-year high, but, the Washington Post told us August 10 “falling inflation doesn’t mean prices are returning to pre-pandemic levels.” This article then blames rent for most recently driving the inflationary mess, before listing six items whose costs gyrated wildly in recent years: used cars, rent, gas, airfare, cereal and baked goods and eggs. And when I say gyrated, I mean soared, then did not plummet. They may have dropped a bit, but they’re still in the stratosphere compared to where they were seven or eight years ago. And the kleptocrats in Washington couldn’t care less. Why should a multimillionaire congressman worry about the cost of butter? He probably only eats in swanky restaurants anyway.

Have you flown lately? Most sane people do it as little as possible, since it tears up the environment and exposes a person to covid more effectively than any other foray into the marketplace. But for those of us with far-flung family, it’s an occasional though regular necessity, and it costs a freaking fortune. Not only that, but the pandemic legacy of overbooked flights, cancelled flights and the nightmare of non-existent staff to answer telephone queries, makes the whole experience something only a masochist could enjoy. It’s hard to say what’s worse: the initial ticket sticker shock or the very real possibility that you’ll have to shell out for a hotel at some distant airport, because the airline cancelled your connecting flight.

Meanwhile the geniuses at the Federal Reserve decided last year that the cause of these skyrocketing prices was worker compensation. Hello? Could somebody please shoot the memo to Fed chairman Jerome Powell that wages are in the toilet? And while you’re at it, remind him that mega corporations in America discovered in a big way, at least at the start of this century, that they were monopolies and therefore could jack up prices whenever they felt like it. They also deduced that the government wouldn’t do anything about it, because antitrust laws are a dead letter as far as gouging consumers is concerned.

And if those giant firms were financial – well, surprise, surprise, they could do whatever they wanted, commit any idiocies or crimes and the government would bail them out. Barack “Evict the Homeowners” Obama was the great mind who pioneered this disgusting form of corruption after the 2008 crash. As a candidate, he promised to rescue the beleaguered little guy, but once elected, did a full 180-degree pivot and stabbed denizens of Main Street in the back. Obama showered Wall Street crooks with all the money the presses could print, thus guaranteeing hyper-inflation somewhere further down the road. We seem lately to have begun approaching that somewhere more rapidly than the stupids who arranged this meeting ever predicted.

Lately it’s become trendy for politicos, economic bigwigs and the propaganda outlets that pass for a free press to crow about “inflation going back down,” or “receding.” According to Zerohedge August 25, those claims really only reference the Consumer Price Index. But “true inflation is cumulative – A 10 percent increase one year and a five percent increase the next year is not a win, it means that you are now paying 15 percent more on average for everything you buy in the span of only two years.” Without a wage increase – and for the vast majority of Americans those are as likely as cool breezes in Phoenix from June to September – that means you’re 15 percent poorer.

“When CPI falls, this does not mean that prices on goods and services are going down, it only indicates that prices are rising slower than they were the month or the year before,” the article explains. So forget all the happy talk about Bidenomics, whatever that is, curing inflation. It’s just more hooey to distract you from your wallet being on a diet.

Worse, Joe “Master of Climate Change Doubletalk” Biden “has been dumping U.S. strategic oil reserves on the market for the past year,” to conceal the disastrous effects of sanctioning Russian energy. “Biden has artificially manipulated the CPI down, using one key resource. Now that his ability to dump oil reserves has ended, the CPI will rise once again with energy prices.” Unless of course, the U.S. buys oil from Iran, something the Biden Bunch has evinced interest in. It’s difficult to gauge the zeal with which the white house will pursue energy from Iran, but never underestimate the tenacity of its fossil fuel monomania. Anything, I guess, rather than going full bore on renewables.

But even with Iranian oil, we’re in for hard times. That’s due to foreign de-dollarization and major American creditors like China and Saudi Arabia ditching U.S. Treasuries, which they know very well are a huge liability in the event of Washington’s omnicidal and suicidal sanctions. USTs have lost their luster abroad, for a variety of reasons – brainless economic policies at home and foreign policy that only appeals to sociopaths. But when Treasuries are in trouble, and the dollar is in trouble, so are ordinary Americans. The solution is NOT doubling down on the nitwit policies that caused the problem in the first place, but that’s all our mindless leaders can imagine.

Years of sanctions on Syria have done zip to dislodge its president? The great minds in the white house have a solution: do more of what doesn’t work. Make ordinary Syrians so hungry and sick that they flee en masse to places like Turkey and Lebanon, and later possibly Europe. Same with Iran and Venezuela. True, sanctions torture the population, a price, in Madeleine “Let the Kids Die” Albright’s words that the Empire considers “worth it.” What sanctions don’t do is replace a government that imperial mandarins regard as odious, but the delusion that that they will has afflicted Washington for decades.

So eventually Bidenomics will be unmasked as the bad joke it is. The only benefit is that this reveal means that publicly napping, warmonger Joe “Russia Has Lost” Biden will nosedive in the election. Let us all pray Cornel West wins. Because if he doesn’t, the next stage direction is “Enter Trump.”

(Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website. This article was featured in Counter Punch.)


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